Image by Koshu Kunii

'WHEN THEY SEE US'

Francisca Sapinho

On May 25th 2020 the appalling murder of one more innocent black man by the police, George
Floyd, reignited the conversation about police brutality and racial discrimination against African
Americans. The death of the victims of police brutality including Breonna Taylor, Tamir Rice
and many more, and particularly of George Floyd have served as a catalyst to the Black Lives
Matter protests currently taking place not only in the 50 states of the United States but all over
the world.
It is baffling that in 2020 racism is still prevalent however, the fact that this movement has
finally caught its deserved worldwide attention gives me hope for a better and equal world,
where the colour of your skin does not influence how people perceive or treat you. It is important
that everyone supports this movement in whatever shape or form each person deems valuable.
Be it voting for anti-racist people, protesting in the streets, donating to organisations fighting
against racial discrimination, standing up to racist comments or educating yourself on racism and
white privilege, all these actions are contributing to a change. A change to a better world where
everyone has the same opportunities, regardless of skin colour.
A suggestion to educate yourself on black oppression and systematic racial discriminaton is to
watch ‘When They See Us’, a Netflix original series directed by Ava DuVernay. It tells the true
story of five children - Antron McCray, Kevin Richardson, Yusef Salaam, Raymond Santana and
Korey Wise - who were falsely accused and put in jail simply because they were at the wrong
place at the wrong time and because of the the colour of their skin, as four of them were black
and one of them was latino. They were wrongfully convicted for the rape of a white female
jogger, Trisha Meili, in Central Park in 1989. The boys, all between the ages of 14 and 16 at the
time of their arrests, were sentenced to between 5 and 15 years in prison. “The Central Park
Five” were renamed as "The Exonerated Five” in 2002 once the real perpetrator finally
confessed to the crime. At that point, four of them had already served 7 years in prison and Wise,
who was sentenced as an adult since he was 16 years old, had spent 12 years in prison.
This series portrays the systematic racism and the corrupt criminal justice system prevalent in the
United States by showing how the children were held by the New York Police Department, with

no access to lawyers, with no evidence connecting them to the crime and eventually coerced into
confessing the crime they had not committed.
‘When They See Us’ is a distressing but must watch series as it shows how these boys became
victims of racism and of a corrupt criminal justice system that stole from them years they will
never be able to have back.
This is just one suggestion of the many ways to educate yourself about how racism has been
contaminating society for centuries. Remember that racism is not only ingrained in the United
States, but all over the world and that it is everyone’s job to kill this virus and make the world a
better place for everyone.
The first step is to educate yourself. Together we can create change.